I have had brief conversations with my boyfriend about the expectation that women shave all (or at least most) of their body hair in order to be considered pretty or sexually attractive.  I was kind of surprised by how deeply that brainwashing had seeped into even his mind.  He prides himself, I believe, on defying convention.  But the fact is that he was inundated with the same standards for male and female beauty that I was growing up, and the only reason I didn’t start shaving as soon as my legs and armpits began to grow hair is that my older sisters both experimented with “hippy” lifestyles in which body hair was accepted as a natural thing.  Most girls don’t even have that opportunity to look at things differently, and in fact if I hadn’t been so determined to make myself “different” from all the other girls at school I might have started shaving anyway.  Even that, I think, sprang from my shyness and introversion, which already made me feel different and out of place.  Around puberty I decided, fuck it, I’ll just take this “different” feeling and put it in my physical appearance so everyone knows, not just me, that I am Not Like Them.  It may have hurt me, socially, because even now I struggle with the feeling that I am I and They are They and I will never truly connect with anyone because I am so different.

That being said, I think leg shaving is ridiculous.  Why do only women shave and not men?  How is it that female fashion and beauty have come to be associated with having no hair except on our heads?  What are we, reptiles? Prepubescent freaks?  No, we are adults, and our bodies grow hair on our legs, our pubis and under our arms.  Why?  Who the hell knows.  I guess it’s just left over from being hairy cavemen.

At the same time I’m probably fighting a losing battle.  Pop culture has infused this ideal of the hairless women so far into our subconscious that convincing anyone (even my outside-the-box boyfriend) that it’s a bunch of rubbish seems impossible.  I even find myself judging hairy women, I find myself judging myself.  I shaved my legs when I got this new job back in May.  It’s an office job and I thought they might have issues with it.  Logically, they shouldn’t, but I think the reaction to hairy legs on women is purely emotional and based on that subconscious conditioning we’ve all gone through all our lives.  The last thing I wanted to do was to be called into my boss’ office and asked to please shave.  I was afraid of being seen as dirty, gross and all those other adjectives we associate with female body hair.

This spring I have resolved to be different.  I haven’t shaved all winter, but because I did shave before, my leg hair looks darker and thicker.  I have almost (note the continued presence of fear) resolved to get my legs waxed early in the season, so the hair that grows back will be naturally fine-tipped, as it was when it first started to grow.

 

*sigh*  It seems like a trite campaign, but I do wish people would just stop and think about it every now and then!

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